In this video, Michael provides an overview of the aperture mode on the Sony DSC-HX300 digital camera, to create photos with a shallow depth of field. A shallow depth of field directs focus to a smaller area of the frame, whereas a deep (or wide) depth of field maintains focus across objects that are near and far from each other, in the frame.
Here is a [brainyfaceproject] video from Michael demonstrating how to use the background defocus mode on the Sony DSCHX300 camera.
The key to using this mode is to ensure that you’re the correct distance from the subject. Use the on-screen distance tip as you manipulate the zoom and remember there are 3.28 feet in a meter. If the camera suggests that you distance yourself 2.0M from the subject, average that out to 6 and a half or seven feet and the results should be good. Remember that the camera is taking two pictures in ‘background defocus’ mode and is modifying them into a single photograph that focuses on the in-focus subject and blurs the background. The camera tends to do a better job when there is little to no movement. If you receive an error that the background defocus couldn’t be performed, try again and make sure to keep the camera steady.
The background defocus mode on Sony cameras sometimes appears to do a good job, while you’re reviewing your pictures on the camera’s screen; however, you may notice that after you load the pictures up on the computer, there are imperfections in the image where the algorithm blurs out a portion of the subject that you wanted to keep in focus. For this reason, the tutorial also explains how to achieve the same effect in post-production by using Photoshop, regardless of whether it was shot with ‘background defocus’ or other modes.
Now Available – BinaryCafe HX100V Tips and Tricks DVD
You asked for it! This DVD contains more than an hour and a half of content*, including all of the tips and tricks videos listed below:
BinaryCafe – Sony DSC-HX100V Tips and Tricks DVD
1. Aperture Mode for Shallow Depth of Field (6:30)
2. Aperture / Sepia & Black and White (4:44)
3. Manual Focus with Focus Ring (2:17)
4. Shutter Mode Priority (4:20)
5. Background Defocus (4:05)
6. Macro Stills and Video (11:52)
7. Panoramic Still Shots (10:29)
8. Shooting 3D Images (11:05)
9. Using GPS (9:44)
10. Extract Pictures (4:35)
11. Focus and Custom Buttons (6:06)
12. Power Settings (2:14)
13. In-Camera Photo Editing (4:09)
14. Record HD Video at 30 fps (3:32)
15. Fasten Lens Cap (3:23)
In this article, Michael discusses how to use the manual focus ring for macro shots on the Sony DSC-HX100V and DSC-HX200V.
Up until a couple years ago, most Sony cameras had an icon that resembled a flower, somewhere on the dial, or tucked away on a button. Selecting this mode was a quick, intuitive way to enter into macro mode. It made it easy to take close-up pictures. If you enjoy macro photography (and seriously, who doesn’t?), then you’ve probably performed an exhaustive search of the exterior of your Sony DSC-HX100V or HX200V, wondering why you were having such a hard time locating the macro button. If you haven’t spent much time looking for the macro button, don’t bother. There isn’t one.
The reason that there is no dedicated macro button is because the macro mode on the Sony DSC-HX100V/200V is engaged automatically by the camera when it detects that the camera is close to an object. It does this by using proprietary brainwave scanning algorithms to detect micro changes in your thought patterns that have been mapped to match the brainwaves of the world’s best macro photographers…just kidding. I actually don’t have a clue how the camera detects proximity to an object and—well—even if I did, who cares? What I do know is that the macro mode doesn’t behave the way I want it to, most of the time. I’ve received many messages from people that share the same frustration, so I know I’m not alone…
While attempting to take macro shots with the HX100V/200V, sometimes I see a little flower icon appear on the screen, but it usually disappears quickly. I’ve been able to take some decent pictures using the auto macro mode, but it’s fairly inconsistent. I don’t trust it. When it comes to macro photography, I like getting a shallow depth of field so that the focus is on a specific target area of my subject. The macro auto mode does not bring much joy, and behaves inconsistently.
So, there’s the problem. What’s the solution?
One of the cool features about the HX100V/200V is the manual focus ring. It stands to reason that you should be able to use the ring on the camera to fix the camera’s focus to obtain excellent macro photos, without putting your trust in the auto macro mode. Once I figured out I could use the manual focus ring for macro shots, I quit holding my breath and hoping that the flower icon would show up on the screen. By following a few short steps, I was able to achieve consistent/great quality macro shots. The steps are simple: (1) put the camera into one of the program modes (P, S, A or M), (2) set the camera to manual focus mode and (3) use the manual focus ring to focus on the object, (4) press the shutter button.
Manual Focus Ring
Note that the camera handles all of the focusing when you’re in the Intelligent Auto or Superior Auto modes. Those modes are selected by moving the dial to either one of green or gold icons that resemble a camera. If you select these modes and click the [AF/Zoom – MF] switch to the MF (Manual Focus) setting, you’ll see an icon on the lower right of the screen that resembles a hand with an F on it. If you see that icon, it means you’re in manual focus mode. If you see that icon with a little circle with a line through it, this indicates manual focus isn’t available under the current setting. When you’re in Intelligent or Superior Auto modes, you’re going to see the icon with the circle and line through it, meaning that manual focus won’t work. It’s not a big deal…just switch the camera to a different mode.
You can use manual focus in any of the PSAM modes, or in some of the “scenes” in the [Scene Selection] mode. Some people may be new to the PSAM modes, so let’s do a high level overview…
P is for Program Auto; it allows you to modify color settings, sensitivity, and exposure values. I like the ‘P’ mode. The camera still does some of the heavy lifting for me, but I have more control in this mode and get good shots with a little bit of customization. S is for Shutter speed priority shooting, which is great when you want to control how long the shutter remains open. A is for Aperture Priority shooting; it lets you control the diameter of the aperture to achieve a shallow depth of field when the aperture is open wide (e.g., low values like 2.8), or maintain focus across the frame for close and distant objects when the aperture is smaller (e.g., higher values). M is for manual exposure shooting and is good for controlling shutter speed and aperture values. Expect to get some overexposed or underexposed shots when you first start playing in this mode. I don’t use the M mode unless I have a lot of time to experiment.
P Mode on Sony DSC-HX200V
Don’t freak out about these modes. You won’t break anything by experimenting with them, and the good news is digital cameras allow you to easily delete the pictures that don’t turn out. Anybody miss film? I don’t! Playing around in these modes lets you have great control over your exposure, depth of field, and even artistic effects for low light situations. It also allows you to more fully appreciate how powerful/smart your digital camera is, because in auto modes the cameras is figuring out the best settings under various conditions.
Another mode that works with the Manual Focus ring is the SCN mode. The Scene Selection mode provides better customization options than the Auto modes and makes it easy to take excellent photographs under different conditions, available via presets. The issue with these “scenes” is that the manual focus ring option isn’t available in all of them. I’ll save you the time of trying to figure out which modes are not “Manual Focus Ring Friendly” by providing you this list: Soft Skin, Background Defocus, Soft Snap, Anti Motion Blur and Twilight Portrait. If you select one of those scenes, you’ll see the icon of the “F-Hand” and the circle with the line through it—that means manual focus ring control isn’t available. It is available with the other ‘scenes’, though!
So here’s the rundown:
1. Select a “Manual Focus Ring Friendly” mode (see above)
2. Click the switch on the side of the lens from [AF/Zoom] down to [MF]
3. Twist the manual focus ring either clockwise or counter-clockwise
Note: Twist to the left to focus on closer objects; twist to the right to focus on faraway objects. For very close macro shots, hold the camera steady and pull it away or push towards the subject very slowly to bring the subject into focus
On Screen Slider Icon (left for close, right for faraway)
4. Click the shutter button when you are happy with the composition and focus
Here are a couple of additional tips for getting the best quality images: you can also use the W/T lever to zoom in and out; however you’ll achieve the highest clarity and level of detail if you are close to the subject. Lighting is important. Make sure you have sufficient lighting; if you don’t have natural light, use an external light. Small movements—especially under poor lighting—will result in blurry images. For best results, you may want to put your camera on a tripod.
Now, go shoot something!
Michael Wilcox is the founder of BinaryCafe.com. You can follow him on Twitter, or find BinaryCafe on Facebook.
Michael is in the midst of creating new content and (finally) finishing the HX100V Tips and Tricks DVD. In the interim, here’s one of the ‘Tips and Tricks’ videos that will appear on the DVD.
“Can I perform in-camera editing on the HX100V?”
In this video, Michael answers this question by demonstrating in-camera photo retouching capabilities available on the Sony DSC-HX100V. This also works for the HX9V.
There are three retouching options: trimming, redeye correction, and sharpening. The first two are useful. The 3rd? Not so much…however, maybe it will help you sharpen your out-of-focus photos, in the absence of photo editing software.